Attack of the smombies


"Smombies" is perhaps a word you’ve not come across before, although the people it describes have surely crossed your path already. They’re everywhere, and they’re multiplying.

Smombies, or "smartphone zombies", are pedestrians who notice absolutely nothing surrounding them as they walk through the street, so buried are they in their smartphones. Most are aged between 13 and 29, all wandering along with their eyes fixed on their screens, be it when taking a zebra crossing, walking along a pavement, or even crossing tramlines – some even wear headphones, too.

Except this type of zombie is dangerous both to other pedestrians and road traffic, not to mention to themselves. There are more and more studies on the phenomenon day by day. Ordinary pedestrians are forced to slalom down the street to avoid these oblivious smombies, who often bump into lampposts, trip over curbs, and have other unfortunate accidents, and that’s not counting crashing into bikes and cars. As a result, smombies are often victims of head and facial injuries, fractures and internal organ damage.

Faced with this worldwide pandemic, certain countries like Israel have opted for a preventative strategy, installing light strips along the edges of protected walkways to alert any smombies to their danger. Others, such as the town of Honolulu in Hawaii, have chosen a different route and actually give out punishments to smombies. It remains to be seen which approach will be the most effective…